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Authors: Dean Crawford

Tags: #Adventure

The Black Knight

THE BLACK KNIGHT

© 2015 Dean Crawford

Published: 30th October 2015

ASIN:

Publisher: Fictum Ltd

The right of Dean Crawford to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved.

Dean Crawford Books

Also by Dean Crawford:

The Warner & Lopez Series

The Nemesis Origin, The Fusion Cage

The Identity Mine, The Black Knight

The Atlantia Series

Survivor, Retaliator

Aggressor, Endeavour, Defiance

The Ethan Warner Series

Covenant, Immortal, Apocalypse

The Chimera Secret, The Eternity Project

Independent novels

Eden, Holo Sapiens

Revolution, Soul Seekers

I

Colorado Springs, USA

1899

‘It is time.’

The silent blackness of the night sky twinkled with a thousand stars, like diamonds embedded in black velvet as Nikola stepped out into the fresh air and inhaled deeply. He closed his eyes, savored the sweet scent of it, so much clearer and cleaner than the chemically tainted smog of New York City. He had not slept for eighteen hours but his mind did not wander.

‘Time to make history,’ he said to the stars above.

He turned to where the windows of his laboratory glowed with electrical light: warmth from the darkness, power from the mysterious ether that surrounded mankind. The laboratory, situated just to the east of the city, was silent at this early hour, desks scattered with papers and wall cabinets filled with books on electrical engineering, physics, chemistry and other more arcane sciences. Inside one of the rooms stood a large spark-gap magnifying transmitter, an advanced version of the air-core Tesla Coil. The primary and secondary coils were wound around a fifty foot diameter frame. A third, eight foot diameter coil was placed within the other coils, magnifying the electrical effects via resonant rise and delivering an incredible eleven hundred amps and one million volts.

Nikola Tesla’s friend and lawyer, Leonard E. Curtis, had offered to find land and provide power for his research from the El Paso Power Company of Colorado Springs. The next supporter to come forward was Colonel John Jacob Astor. With thirty thousand dollars of investment from Astor, Tesla had begun building the new experimental station near Pikes Peak. Joining Tesla were several assistants who were not fully informed of the inventor’s plans, including his long-serving assistant George Scherff. Arriving at Colorado Springs in May 1899, Tesla had inspected the site some miles out in the prairie. He had told reporters that he intended to send a radio signal from Pikes Peak to Paris, but that had merely been the official story.

In the midst of Colorado’s own incredible electrical displays, Tesla had sat and taken vast numbers of measurements. He had found the Earth to be literally alive with electrical vibrations and come to the conclusion that when lightning struck the ground it set up powerful waves that moved from one side of the planet to the other. If the Earth was indeed a great conductor, Tesla had hypothesized that he could transmit unlimited amounts of power to any place on the globe with virtually no loss. But to test this theory, he would have to become the first man in history to create electrical effects on the scale of lightning.

The laboratory that rose from the prairie floor was both wired and weird, a contraption with a roof that rolled back to prevent it from catching fire and a wooden tower that soared eighty feet into the air. Above it was a hundred forty two foot metal mast supporting a large copper sphere. Inside the wooden structure, technicians had begun to assemble an enormous Tesla coil specially designed to send powerful electrical impulses into the Earth.

On the evening of the experiment, each piece of equipment had been first carefully checked. Then Tesla had alerted his mechanic, Czito, to open the switch for only one second. The secondary coil had begun to sparkle and crack and an eerie blue corona had formed in the air around it. Huge arcs of blue electricity snaked up and down the center coil. Bolts of man-made lightning more than a hundred feet in length shot out from the mast atop the station. Thunder from the released energy was heard fifteen miles away in Cripple Creek. People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground. Sparks sprang from water line taps when touched and light bulbs within a hundred feet of the lab glowed even when turned off. Tesla’s experiment burned out the dynamo at the El Paso Electric Company and the entire city lost power. The power station manager had been livid and had insisted that Tesla pay for and repair the damage but Tesla was unrepentant, for he had the United States government on his side.

Several major corporations including the immensely powerful Marconi had shown interest in his work and now he was about to conduct the greatest experiment he had ever attempted.

‘We are ready, Nikola.’

Tesla turned and saw George Scherff standing at the entrance to the laboratory, a slightly pensive expression on his features as he awaited the moment of ignition. The laboratory hummed with restrained energy as though alive. Tesla nodded once and raised his arms to the darkened skies above them as he cried out.

‘Let there be light!’

George looked back into the laboratories, and with a curt nod relayed the command to Czito to open the switch. Tesla turned to watch and a moment later threw his hands up to shield his eyes as a tremendous blast seared the deserts as though the sky itself had burst into flame.

The tower lit up with a fearsome white light as bright as a thousand suns that blazed into the darkness and seared it away, the endless deserts illuminated in a stark halo, distant mountain ranges glowing blue. A thick, solid bolt of energy erupted from the laboratory and crackled in an instant up the tower before blasting into the night sky as a deafening crack of thunder shattered the silence of the night as though the heavens were splitting above his head.

Tesla felt himself laughing at the sheer spectacle of the writhing, snarling coil of energy blazing up toward space as he felt the thunder reverberate like war drums through his chest, felt the shockwave as the air itself burned around the lightning bolt and then hit him in the face and he staggered backwards a few paces, his hands clasped to his ears.

The fearsome, infernal bolt vanished and the desert plunged back into absolute blackness as the power was cut off, and Tesla realized that he was breathing fast as he lowered his hands from his ears and heard a rumble of thunder rolling away into the distant deserts. His ears rang and his eyes throbbed with pulses of light as he struggled to regain his night vision and swayed unsteadily on his feet.

A noise to his right attracted his attention and he saw horses from a nearby livery stable bolt from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes, orange sparks flying from their hooves as they galloped in panic across the plains. As the throbbing lights in his eyes faded Tesla saw what he thought were more flickering relics of that infernal blast in his eyes but then he realized that butterflies had been awoken, electrified, and were now swirling in circles around him in the darkness with blue halos of St. Elmo’s fire around their wings.

Tesla staggered off balance again and felt pricks of static electricity spark from his shoes and vanish into the desert at his feet, his own hair tingling on his scalp as it was lifted by the energy still seeking to escape from his body. He was still trying to recover himself when then door to the laboratory opened with a bang and George Scherrf dashed out.

‘Nikola! You must come quickly! You have to see this!’

Tesla gathered himself and hurried inside, his thin six foot two frame stooping to pass through the doorway as he followed George into the laboratory. There, Czito was scrutinizing a read-out being produced by clattering ink-keys and graph pens nearby, some sort of return signal that he had not realized was being recorded.

‘What is it?’ he demanded.

Czito looked up at Tesla, his face as white as a sheet.

‘The energy burst,’ he gasped. ‘We’ve had a reply.’

Teslav stared at Czito for a moment, his prodigious intellect struggling to digest what the mechanic was saying.

‘What do you mean a
reply
?’

Tesla stared down at the data stream and then his mind went into overdrive.

There could be no mistake. Even though he knew that it was not possible he leaned forward and poured over the figures, his mind humming and his eyes itching with fatigue.

The signal was clear. He was already familiar with the bursts of energy produced by the sun, by the Aurora Borealis and the currents generated by the Earth itself, but this was none of those. Nikola looked up across the laboratory to the window, outside which soared the tower from which he had driven truly monstrous surges of energy into the atmosphere, and inside the laboratory he possessed instruments so sensitive that he could detect electromagnetic disturbances anywhere within a thousand miles of the laboratory. The entire experiment had been designed by Nikola with one true aim in mind: to make the first attempt at communicating with another civilization, to speak for the first time with beings inhabiting another world.

He had not expected to be the one doing the listening.

While in Colorado Springs he had been researching transmitters, receivers, additional smaller resonance transformers and tuned electrical circuits. He had become interested in the effects of the electrical waves that the Colorado Springs’ lightning storms would create within the Earth itself and had discovered evidence of terrestrial stationary waves. In a moment of inspiration, he’d had the idea of sending these extremely low frequency waves into the Earth and as the waves bounced back, he
would add a boost to create the resonance rise and charge the earth with electricity.

It had been then that he had detected the strange signals coming not from the Earth but from somewhere
beyond
it, from space itself. Nikola stared down at the data before him, at the rhythmic flow of signals far too orderly and consistent to be the result of anything in nature.

‘What are you?’ he whispered to himself.

‘Nikola? Have you ever seen anything like this?’

Scherff was no expert like Nikola when it came to interpreting signals data, but he had learned enough in the years he had spent at Tesla’s side to at least understand what he was looking at.

‘Where is it coming from?’ Czito asked.

Tesla’s eyes shone as he worked with pencil and ruler, reflecting the flickering electrical lights in bright halos as he stood up and pointed to the ceiling.

‘I have plotted an orbit of seventy nine degrees off the equator, an apogee of just over one thousand miles and a perigee of perhaps a hundred and fifty miles,’ he said, and then his expression became somber. ‘The object is orbiting our planet once every one hundred and four minutes.’

George Scherff slowly looked up from the data into Tesla’s eyes.

‘Orbit? You’re telling me that this signal is coming from space?’

Tesla nodded. ‘It’s coming from space, George. It doesn’t belong to us. It did not come from this planet.’

‘Then what do we do about it?’ Czito asked.

Tesla was about to reply when he heard galloping horses approaching the laboratory. For a moment he thought that perhaps the spooked horses that had bolted from the nearby stables had returned, but then he heard voices and the sounds of booted men dismounting. Before he could speak, the door to the laboratory burst open and armed soldiers flooded into the building.

Tesla knew that they could not have travelled from Colorado Springs so soon after the energy burst. They must have been waiting much closer by.

‘Nikola Tesla?!’ their officer demanded, his expression brooking no argument as he looked directly into Tesla’s eyes, already knowing the answer.

‘Yes?’

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